Neighbors fight restaurant proposal for Laight and Washington

A longtime N. Moore resident, Taylor Hubbs, presented her plans for what I am calling an upscale pub at 70-72 Laight to Community Board 1 last week, and neighbors on several blocks surrounding came prepared to fight it. Still, CB1 approved the application but added a stipulation saying the restaurant must close by 10p (they asked for 1a), at least for the first year. The committee also nixed the restaurant’s plans for a occasional DJ.

Hubbs first proposed Sub Rosa for 175 Franklin last spring, but she could not come to an agreement with the landlord there. Now she has a preliminary agreement for the space on the north side of Laight between Washington and Greenwich, 4400 square feet that would allow for 49 seats at the bar and 25 seats in the dining area.

Her hook is art: a family friend has agreed to loan what her attorney called millions of dollars in works from the likes of Basquiat, Warhol and Damien Hirst to display inside. (She will employ a security guard to protect it.) As Hubbs described it this past spring, she wants to create a space that is as relaxed as a living room for her guests. She added that this would be the first space in New York City to bring art of this magnitude to a hospitality concept.

The president of the coop next door, at 74-76 Laight, Erica Marshad, represented what she said was 327 families on neighboring streets — not just Laight, but also Greenwich, Vestry and Washington — who are opposed to any restaurant coming into this space. (From what I can tell, there has not been anything in there for at least a decade, back when it was the offices for Thierry Despont, who owned the building as recently as 2019. Odd coincidence: Despont had the lease for the space Hubbs originally wanted at 175 Franklin.)

“I am really sorry to tell you but we don’t think this is in the best interest of our community,” Marchad said. “The qualify of life in Tribeca has really slid. To have another restaurant come in does not help us, it only helps you and your landlord. We are very pro business — we love the restaurants in our neighborhood — but this is not the right thing for us.”

There was a ton of back and forth between the residents, the committee members and the applicant’s attorney, who also happens to live in Tribeca. There were arguments about whether patrons could be seated on the raised platform outside the restaurant; whether the certificate of occupancy for the building would permit a restaurant; where the landlord lives and if that matters; whether the restaurant is more or less like neighbors L’Abeille and Paisley, and whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

The applicant’s lawyer noted that a restaurant should be an appealing use for neighbors, though they were not buying it. “This could be a cannabis store [more on that soon!], this could be a sex shop, this could be something completely ludicrous,” he said.

There is no doubt that the block has a real problem with traffic coming out of the tunnel ramps AND Amazon, which sets up one of its [should be illegal] distribution warehouses on the street there. Neighbors also complained that they hear noise coming from the patrons of both Paisley and L’Abeille as they leave for the night. “This was a quiet residential neighborhood,” said one resident. “We came to North Tribeca looking for peacefulness and privacy.”

More on the restaurant: Hubbs says she has engaged a Michelin-starred chef to come up with a menu of French and Italian shared plates; her beverage director comes from the Italian fine dining Del Posto, which closed in 2021; she said she will put $200K into soundproofing the space. She also said her husband grew up in the neighborhood and that her father-in-law is in the industry, which I took to mean the restaurant business.

The website says coming in fall 2024.

The committee members said they were unlikely to reject the application and risk having no say with the SLA, which has made it clear that it is planning to fast-track applicants. “We can’t stop a license unless it is really egregious,” said chair Susan Cole. “We have to compromise. The community issue with this is so intense — we haven’t had this in a while.”


1 Comment

  1. Lot of nimbyism for what seems to be a nice neighborhood bar. I do agree that a 1am close and a DJ would be excessive for this block.